Oddar Meanchey Provincial Court yesterday charged a defrocked chief monk who allegedly killed a 68-year-old motorbike taxi driver in Anlong Veng district.
The murder took place at about 3pm on Tuesday in a forest located in Anlong Veng commune’s Pralean village, in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district.
Major General Men Ly, provincial police chief, identified the accused as Chhay Long, 27, former chief of Borey Prey Chroum Pagoda in the district.
Maj Gen Ly said the victim was Phath Hath, 68, a motorbike taxi driver from O’Chenchien village, located in the commune.
He added that Mr Long was charged with premeditated murder after he was arrested on Friday. The accused faces up to a life sentence if convicted and is currently in pre-trial detention.
Brigadier General Loek Sokha, deputy provincial police chief, said the victim became acquainted with the accused in 2017, noting that Mr Long often hired Mr Hath to drive him for work. They eventually became friends, he added.
Brig Gen Sokha said in 2018, the accused borrowed about $7,500 from the victim to play lottery, which he lost.
He noted that Mr Long paid back about $3,250 in April, after the victim continued to ask for his money.
Brig Gen Sokha said earlier this month, the victim became impatient with Mr Long, who still owed about $4,250.
Mr Hath, who knew that Mr Long had relationship with a woman who he often brought over to stay at the pagoda with him, threatened to tell villagers of the relationship and his debt.
Brig Gen Sokha said that at about 2pm on Tuesday, the accused persuaded the victim to drive him to raise funds from villagers in the commune.
The victim then drove the accused on his Honda motorbike toward a village located about 30 kilometres from the pagoda.
Brig Gen Sokha said the accused ordered the victim to drive through a forest area and asked him to stop at a quiet spot.
“When the victim stopped his motorbike, the accused took a hammer from his bag and hit the victim on his neck and head until he died,” he said. “After killing the victim, he moved the victim’s body to hide in the forest and fled.”
Brig Gen Sokha said the body was hidden about 500 metres from the road, noting that the accused had also taken the victim’s clothes to wear.
He added that Mr Long took the victim’s motorbike and hid it about 10 kilometres from the location of the murder.
Brig Gen Sokha said the accused then called his younger brother, Chhay Lo, 22, to pick him up.
He added that provincial penal police arrested Mr Long at the pagoda on Friday based on a complaint filed by the victim’s wife, along with some villagers, who saw Mr Hath driving the accused on the day he disappeared.
Brig Gen Sokha said police later took the accused to the locations in the forest where he hid Mr Hath’s body and the motorbike.
“During police interrogation, the accused admitted committing the offence, saying that he killed the victim himself,” he said.
“He confessed that he killed the victim because he was angry that the victim kept demanding the money he owed and threatened to alert villagers or police of his debt and love affair,” he added.
Brig Gen Sokha said police had also arrested Mr Long’s younger brother but released him on Sunday after questioning, noting that Mr Lo was not involved in the murder.